Vettel Cruises to Victory at Monza
Sebastian Vettel took his eighth win of the season to move within touching distance of his second World Championship. Jenson Button came out ahead of a battle with Fernando Alonso, who had briefly held the lead during the opening laps. The Ferrari driver eventually finished third with Lewis Hamilton right on his tail, the McLaren driver having spent much of the race staring at the back of the Mercedes of Michael Schumacher.
The result sees Vettel extend his Championship lead to 112 points with just 150 up for grabs. There’s a chance he could wrap up the title in Singapore in two weeks time, although it would require a disastrous weekend for his rivals. With Mark Webber crashing out, Red Bull failed to finish both cars in the points for the first time this season, and their lead in the Constructors’ Champion is now “just” 126 points.
Driver of the Day:
Starting from 18th, quietly negotiating the carnage at the start, Jaime Alguersuari charged through the field to finish a career best seventh. “I am very happy with my race today. I think I would like to start even further back on the grid for the next one,” joked the Spaniard, “because it seems that whenever I have a poor grid position, I finish in the points! I am also very pleased for the team, as they got both cars home in the points.”
Fifth place for Michael Schumacher came on the back of a great start and an opportunistic restart after the early safety car. Catching Hamilton watching his mirrors when Alonso and Vettel accelerated away, the Mercedes driver was up to third. Hamilton attempted endlessly to overtake Schumacher – the Mercedes’ superior straightline speed and a strong defending keeping the McLaren behind. Button was fortunate to slip past the pair easily, Hamilton had to wait 22 laps. It’s debatable whether it was actually necessary for Schumacher to have spent so long defending his position so aggressively – Ross Brawn eventually got on the radio to warn him – but it was certainly entertaining stuff.
Notable mentions go to Button for his climb through the field, Alonso for his astonishing start and Vettel for his pass for the lead – he can overtake – which pretty much allowed him to put his feet up for the rest of the race.
Mark Webber was going about recovering his poor start to the race by first passing Button for sixth – next up was Felipe Massa. Attacking the Ferrari into the first chicane, the two tangled sending Massa into a spin. In the process, the Red Bull sustained a damaged front wing which failed to make it around Parabolica, slipping under the car and causing Webber to crash. Nil points and down to fourth in the standings – not good enough in the car of the season.
The race started with carnage as Tonio Liuzzi’s HRT spun across the grass and into the side of Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes and Vitaly Petrov’s Renault as they made their way through the first chicane. Rubens Barrichello and Kamui Kobayashi picked up damage in the log jam that formed behind the collision, while the rest of the field filed through the run-off and gravel trap as the safety car was deployed. Fortunately, everyone came through unscathed but Liuzzi carries a five-place grid penalty to Singapore for his troubles. While it is unlikely to make a great deal of difference to the HRT driver, I do find the punishment surprising – it certainly didn’t seem like an avoidable accident.
Was it the slipstreaming battle of the 60’s and early 70’s? Far from it but there were several tasty battles from second place downwards. Just a shame that Vettel went unchallenged, as he has done for most of the season.
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||1h20:46.172|
|7.||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||+1 Lap|
|8.||Paul Di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||+1 Lap|
|9.||Bruno Senna||Renault||+1 Lap|
|10.||Sebastien Buemi||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||+1 Lap|
|11.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams-Cosworth||+1 Lap|
|12.||Rubens Barrichello||Williams-Cosworth||+1 Lap|
|13.||Heikki Kovalainen||Lotus-Renault||+2 Laps|
|14.||Jarno Trulli||Lotus-Renault||+2 Laps|
|15.||Timo Glock||Virgin-Cosworth||+2 Laps|
Fastest Lap: Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes, 1:26.187
Fastest Pitstop: Jenson Button, McLaren-Mercedes – 21.660s (entry-exit)
|Daniel Ricciardo||HRT-Cosworth||Lap 40||+14 Laps|
|Sergio Perez||Sauber-Ferrari||Lap 34||Gearbox|
|Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber-Ferrari||Lap 23||Gearbox|
|Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||Lap 11||Hydraulic Failure|
|Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault||Lap 6||Accident damage|
|Jérôme D’Ambrosio||Virgin-Cosworth||Lap 3||Gearbox|
|Vitaly Petrov||Renault||Lap 1||Accident|
|Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||Lap 1||Accident|
|Vitantonio Liuzzi||HRT-Cosworth||Lap 1||Accident|
World Drivers’ Championship:
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||284 Points|
|2.||Fernando Alonso||172 Points|
|3.||Jenson Button||167 Points|
|4.||Mark Webber||167 Points|
|5.||Lewis Hamilton||158 Points|
World Constructors’ Championship:
|1.||Red Bull-Renault||451 Points|
What did you make of the Italian Grand Prix? Who do you think was driver of the day? Who had a weekend to forget? Did Liuzzi deserve a grid penalty? Should Schumacher have been punished? Let us know your thoughts in the comments…
Photo: Red Bull Racing/Mark Thompson/Getty Images